Young Renews Efforts to Reform Outdated Monument Designation Process – On Land and At Sea
Washington, D.C. – Days after reintroducing legislation to reform the archaic and unilateral process for designating national monuments, this week Alaska Congressman Young appeared before the House Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee to reiterate his belief that the Antiquities Act must be updated to include additional layers of transparency, state and local involvement and Congressional approval.
Congressman Young speaking at the Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee oversight hearing on the creation and management of marine monuments and sanctuaries (Click here to watch).
“Thankfully, in Alaska, this unfettered presidential power has been significantly limited through the ‘no more’ clauses of ANILCA, however there is still serious cause for concern when it comes to the designation of national marine monuments off our shores,” said Congressman Don Young. “Nobody ever imagined the Antiquities Act would be used in the ocean – the law explicitly says ‘upon the lands’– yet here we are with thousands of acres of oceans closed off. My legislation is an important step to reforming the national monument process – on land and at sea – from a top down executive mandate to a locally driven, bottom-up approach. For too long, we’ve seen the crippling impacts associated with the monument process, all without consultation or support of those that rely upon the area. The days of Presidents unilaterally closing off thousands of acres of land or water must come to an end.”
The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to create national monuments on federal lands that contain historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest. Originally designed to protect small areas of land of archeological significance from imminent danger, today these designations often disproportionately impact Western States and significantly restrict public access, eliminate economic opportunities, ignore basic property rights, and fail to consider the families and communities that depend on the areas.
While national monuments have been designated under sixteen Democrat and Republican administrations, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama used the Antiquities Act to create the only existing Marine National Monuments in federal and territorial waters.
As a result of abuses under the Antiquities Act and the unilateral expansion of its authority to include federal and territorial waters, Congressman Young has introduced H.R. 1489, the Marine Access and State Transparency Act. The bill would require all future national monument and national marine monument designations be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and approval from Congress. Further, the bill would specifically address attempts to close off any areas within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the 200 miles area that stretches from the edge of state waters, by requiring approval from State or Territory Governors and State or Territory Legislatures. The legislation also prevents the Secretary of the Interior – and the Secretary of Commerce for any area of the EEZ – from implementing restrictions on the public use of a national monument until after an appropriate review period, in order to provide for public input and congressional approval.